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TheatreLouisville March 2017 Editorial:
What is a "Professional" Actor?!

As we are asked to vote in yet another "Best of" competition*, I'm becoming increasingly irate at the discriminatory circle being drawn around so-called "professional" actors and theatre groups. This pseudo-distinction resulted in a distorted and bizarre array of results at a recent awards ceremony, and it threatens to do so in the future.

Look up "professional" in the dictionary and you'll see several definitions. At least one will refer to having a permanent career, and one or more will refer to maintaining a high standard of ethics and demeanor. Unfortunately, in the recent award determinations, the definition that was selected basically disqualified all but two or three of Kentuckiana's more than 60 theatre groups, along with literally hundreds of actors.

Among the actors disqualified are many of the area's most highly regarded and accomplished performing artists, some of them with distinguished careers spanning decades. Some of those actors are paid. Some are not, instead donating their tireless efforts for the betterment of the community. The economy being what it is, some (but not all) of them may do additional income-producing work (as do many of the so-called professionals, by the way). Yet they work just as hard as any paid actor, giving their all and exemplifying the highest standards of the acting profession. To consider them as anything less than professionals -- i.e., as "amateurs" -- is absurd and an outrage.

Unless found to engage in unprofessional behavior, these independent preforming artists are all professional actors. To say otherwise is to make a mockery of the entire Louisville arts community.

- A.S. Waterman
Published Mar. 1, 2017

*See "The Best of … What" [TheatreLouisville editorial, Nov. 2016]:


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